Loudie is a mobile concert ticket giveaway iOS app. You give us your location and from there we recommend concerts for you and notify you when there are free ticket giveaways in your area. We have given out thousands of tickets across the United States to date.
From the moment we created this app, we knew it would be most effective in a conversational format, so when Facebook launched its Messenger platform we jumped at the opportunity. Our first thought was to make a bot that messages you when there are free ticket giveaways in your area. But then we started digging into the rules:
The Send/Receive API is intended for non-promotional messages that facilitate a preexisting transaction, provide other customer support actions, or deliver content requested by a person.
Giving out free tickets to our shows is by definition a promotion. We were uncertain whether this would be an acceptable use case.
So we dug further and found that Facebook was testing out sponsored messages. If we wanted to tell our bot users about a promotion, we would probably have to pay Facebook to do so. If you are a big company like Expedia and have millions of dollars to spend, that’s one case, but small guys like us are out of luck.
We decided to not include our main app feature in our bot. A huge bummer. So we decided to build an awesome concert discovery Messenger bot instead.
How we built it
Given that we already had a recommendation system built for the app, it was simply a matter of getting the user’s location and artists that they are interested in. Take a look at the video below and see our current bot. It’s pretty cool. Just yesterday it told me about a new Drake concert I should go to in NYC (where we are based).
I like to categorize Messenger Bots into two categories:
- Smart: Ones that utilize A.I. and natural language parsing to return responses.
- Dumb: Ones that are just a series of “if” statements.
As a scrappy startup, we had neither the resources nor the time to make a smart chatbot, even though we really want to. Facebook has even made available their cool wit.ai (Natural Language Assistance) platform, so doing it should be much easier than before.
Eventually, we hope to be able to make our bot smart (if we get enough user traction). But unfortunately, discovery is extremely challenging on the Messenger Platform as it is now.
Discovery boils down to appearing on one row in search. So if you are a small player who hopes to be discovered on a new platform with few established players, this may not the platform for you. Do you think you can get on that small row? There are already over 11,000 developers developing chatbots. And how many of those do you think have a relationship with Facebook? We currently don’t.
My suggestion to Facebook would be to add a bot page similar to what Kik’s chatbot platform has.
Things are really early and, being a bootstrapped startup, we are always optimistic. We hope there will be many changes on the discovery front. We also hope we will get lots of users, like you.